"Pride of Lions," the contribution of Chapel Hill sweethearts Pete and Andrea Connolly of Birds and Arrows to this hand-sewn 7-inch package, follows the elegant, elemental folk path that defined the duo's full-length debut, Starmaker. But where that record's tracks tended toward intimate portraiture, this song flirts with idiosyncratic nonsense. The lyrics are a collage of random imagery both affecting and obtuse. The listener may never filch the logic between the "pride of lions" and washing "clothes in an unbalanced washing machine," but when hearing these images sung in fragile, interlocked harmony against the meandering melody of this track, it really doesn't matter.
Meanwhile, "Risk Big," Billy Sugarfix's first release with his new band, Carousel, is a '50s nerd-chic pop gem. Sweet and uncharacteristically straightforward, Sugarfix trades antics for a precise arrangement and lyrics that bend toward cliché ("rock and a hard place," "one foot in, one foot out," "silver lining"). Saving it all from been-there-sung-that dread is Sugarfix's operatic vibrato, a chorus of las, boy/ girl trade-offs and undercurrents of oboe. Thankfully, Carousel ties a Buddy Holly bow tie on what sounds at times like a middle schooler's woebegone journal entry. For Sugarfix, the full-band risk works.